The northern half of Italy is considered to be a playground for hikers. Bordered on the north by the Italian Alps and the Dolomites, and on the south by the Apennine Mountains, there’s plenty of trail options to take; each with a different environment, difficulty, height, and length. Of the countless options to take, here are three treks that will show you why Italy is a great country in which to go hiking.
The path of Mezzolpiano is at the base of the Italian Alps. It is a 5.5-hour hike that goes from Novate Mezzola to Rifugio Frasnedo, and returns via the village of San Giorgio. As you go up the mountains, you’ll pass through a bosqueto luminoso – a light forest where the sunlight passes through the trees, creating a sublime glow along the trail. The trail also passes through old mining tunnels, stepped sections, and high cliffs with impressive views of the snow capped Alps. On the top, you’ll find the rifugio where you can get a good meal or just a rest.
On the way down, you’ll pass through the village of San Giorgio – which can only be reached by foot. To this day, it still looks like it did over a hundred years ago and the views of the Mezzola Lake from the top of the village are simply breathtaking.
Camogli to Portofino
This hike is along the Ligurian coast of the famous Italian Riviera. The area between Camogli and Portofino offers spectacular views of the coast and of the orchards and gardens in the Portofino Regional Park. It is a one way 4-hour hike via San Fruttuoso, a famous 11th century abbey by the beach which is also considered to be one of Italy’s prettiest fishing villages. San Fruttuoso is a great lunch spot halfway along the trail, where you can also sun bathe for a while or even swim in its turquoise blue waters.
In its entirety, the trail is an easy to moderate difficulty level, with the hardest part next to San Fruttuoso where one must climb a lot of steep stairs to descend to the abbey and the beach. But, the stairs are worth taking since you get the impressive view of the Golfo Paradiso as you descend.
There are no roads to San Fruttuoso, but if you’re tired after reaching the abbey and don’t wish to continue the hike, you can catch a boat back to Camogli. Otherwise, once you reach Portofino by foot, you can catch a boat or a bus to Santa Margherita Ligure and catch the train back to Camogli.
With over 90,000 acres of breathtaking mountainous terrain, the Italian Dolomites are considered to be one of the greatest areas for hiking in the world. Val Gardena is not just a trail, but a tight network of trails through the Dolomites and one of the most popular valleys in the region for hiking enthusiasts.
These trails pass through towering peaks, rolling green pastures, and small villages where you can still see part of the ancient Italian culture. History can be seen clearly here, particularly in the language spoken –the ancient dialect of Ladin– and the old traditions still carried on by the locals. You can stay overnight at a rifugio in the valley for a more in depth historical, cultural, and gastronomic experience.
If you plan on doing more adventurous mountain climbing and hiking, you might want to look into an adventure travel insurance policy.